14 Best Practices to Manage Your Team’s Tasks and Projects
Updated: Jun 14, 2018
The completion of daily tasks is essential for the success of a project. They are almost like the gears that make up a project's basic mechanics so that if one part fails, the entire project is affected.
Managing how these parts work together is called task management. Dividing the project into smaller tasks and using metrics to measure the success of those tasks is a great way to assess the progression of project goals, which areas of the project need additional resources, and which team members could use assistance.
For team members, however, it can be overwhelming to receive an influx of tasks assignments; one can quickly feel burdened by responsibilities rather than energized and motivated to contribute to a project. Poor task management can result in loss of talent and wasted time.
If as a manager you are unsure about how to tackle challenging project,
here is a simple guide to help manage your team’s daily tasks:
1. Clearly define what the project is.
As a manager, it is crucial to provide context for the project and its goals to help employees understand their assignments and day-to-day activities. Goals give a clear picture of where the business wants to go.
Setting goals and objectives will also make it is easier to create a roadmap and set milestones that will mark progress in small increments. They build team cohesion and ensure that people are working with the right tools and from the same page. Additionally, setting targets is crucial for managing tasks because they provide direction and guidance to individual team members.
Objectives serve as standards for performance that can be used to measure and compare milestones. They indicate if the team is consistent in hitting its marks and if they are trending towards success or failure. Think of objectives as similar to a lighthouse that blinks in the dark to remind sailors where their destination should be. If the team is deviating away from the right course, corrective measures can be decided upon and implemented.
When employees know what they need to achieve, they work with more independence and align their personal goals with the project's vision; thus becoming more motivated to work and go the extra mile.
2. Divide the project into tasks, and then tasks into subtasks
Tasks are like the gears and parts of a clock. Taken individually, they seem mundane and insignificant, but when put together, they create significant value and purpose.
Subtasks specify the details of what needs to be accomplished in order to complete a more general feat. Creating to-do lists and checklists are useful at this level as they clearly outline which tasks are completed, pending, in-progress or overdue.
Breaking down a project into manageable tasks is better than tackling it with one overarching job, especially for large assignments. An example is organizing a big community event. The project could be divided into teams that will take care of the program, food, booths, security, and physical arrangements. Then each team leader would further break down these duties into smaller subtasks with deliverables that can be assigned to the team members.
As the project progresses, the list of things to do becomes shorter – bringing the team one step closer to accomplishing its goal. Diving a project into tasks and subtasks helps leaders cover all details of a plan and ensure that no redundancies are created.
3. Set priorities and categorize them according to the urgency of completion.
Establishing priorities within the context of a project sets the tone for success. It helps the project move forward despite limited time and resources and identifies which tasks are prerequisites for other assignments and which need immediate completion. Prioritization serves as a guide that determines which part of a project requires the most resources.
An example of a priority task is securing a permit for the venue of an upcoming concert event. Without permission, other aspects of the job such as setting up lights and sounds for the stage can not be started. The permit that grants permission is a prerequisite to other tasks.
Prioritization requires the involvement of all stakeholders so that the project can be viewed from all angles and the stakeholders' requirements are met most efficiently.
4. Create metrics that will track & measure the success of the project
Metrics quantify tasks and reduce ambiguity through objectivity. They indicate where the organization fall in the implementation of their plan or how far they still need to accomplish their goals. Metrics also tell if the organization or team is below par of what is expected or if goals have already been met. Is the task only halfway finished? The numbers or chart will show it.
When an organization sets metrics, it helps allocate resources effectively - consequently controlling costs – in addition to helping identify industry trends. When managing projects, make sure to set your parameters correctly.
Here's how to set useful metrics:
Make them SMART - specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-based
Ensure buy-in from top to bottom. They should be clear-cut and agreed to by all stakeholders.
Identify what data is needed and how to collect information to use in benchmarking
Do the measurements and present the data to the stakeholders
Use the data for continuous improvement
5. Meet with your teams.
Face-times are crucial for providing an opportunity to discuss progress and challenges within a project, make suggestions and changes, and brainstorm new ideas. Meetings can also be utilized to recognize employees and their efforts, further motivating the team.
When face-times become a challenge due to time constraints and remote workers, look for a common platform to communicate with all those involved with the project. It prevents the development of silos and ensures that critical agenda are discussed on-time.
When conducting meetings, make sure to inform all attendees of the topics to discuss and the action plans. Keep them short, direct to the point and productive.
6. Create owners of the tasks.
Appointing an owner of a task ensures that someone is responsible for coordinating with team members, finalizing group decisions, ensuring that all members align their efforts with project goals and that deadlines are met. The task owner can also serve as a point-of-contact for providing clarification or adding subtasks.
The owner of the task feels a sense of responsibility and accountability to make the project work. Likewise, after task completion, they feel also the satisfaction of owning the accomplishment.
The challenge in creating owners of tasks is that about one-fourth of employees avoid responsibilities, according to the American Management Association. These employees make excuses or pass the buck because they fear risks and failures. It is, therefore, crucial to have an employee engagement program running as you manage tasks to ensure that the entire team is intrinsically motivated and willing to own tasks.
Why should a task management platform create a sense of ownership in their teams? Research has found that organizations that have employee ownership perform better than others. It is human nature to be competitive if one feels that the success of the project is also his/her success.
Owners of projects become more driven, take more initiative and go the extra mile in order to succeed. They spend extra effort to continuously improve their skills and work with innovation and creativity. They bring out their best ideas to make the project more successful, instead of just going through the motions.
7. Create teams that will collaborate.
Diversify each team with different types of people in order to stimulate new ideas and approaches to the project. Then give teams enough time, space, resources, and flexibility to contribute to the accomplishment of objectives.
Team collaboration is a crucial part of task management. When leaders and members of a team work together, they are encouraged to utilize their individual knowledge and expertise to move the project forward and hit target goals. Effective collaboration encourages the best ideas and promotes learning, fostering a culture of excellence in which every member looks forward to contributing to the project and engaging with the organization.
Collaboration should take center-stage with every task management effort because roadblocks to success become simpler to spot when members express genuine concern for the project. Furthermore, it inherently helps each team member finds the most appropriate solution to problems and fast-tracks problem-solving.
8. Set deadlines that are aligned with your organizational plans.
Mark your calendar with each and every target objective due date. Determine which particular job needs to be finished sooner rather than later. Set realistic expectations while providing a challenge so that employees will be motivated to hustle.
Deadlines keep momentum going in the right direction. As target dates near, the team gets more focused and speeds up their individual tasks. The urgency keeps them on their toes. Effective leaders can re-engineer the team's workflows and resources to finish duties on time and even exceed expectations.
Having a deadline for completion also helps the team prioritize tasks and focus on the most critical aspects of a project. When employees are aware of deadlines, they take action and refrain from procrastinating.
9. Develop a notification system for pending or overdue tasks.
Push it or pin it, employees often need to be reminded to meet their deadlines.
Live notifications are an essential aspect of task management. Advisories keep the team informed of every change in workflows and tasks. With a notification system in place, leaders can communicate status updates as soon as changes happen and members get the information they need without the need to chase details.
10. Utilize a platform that provides feedback, reporting, and collaboration.
Teamwork makes the dream work. Feedback enables closed-loop communication across different levels of the hierarchy. This platform glues pieces of the puzzle together and makes sense of individual and team tasks.
Task management is hard to accomplish without a common platform where the team can collaborate, send each other updates, and make progress reports. The use of a task management software can help an organization easily fulfill their requirements and meet their metrics. When the team utilizes a collaboration and feedback platform, completing the job becomes more feasible.
11. Use a common hub to store and maintain files.
Knowledge-sharing fuels collaboration. Maintain a database of resources that can be accessed by anyone when needed.
To enable collaboration, the team must have a knowledge hub that facilitates learning and engagement, or they may lose precious time sorting through emails and drives to look for files. Without a common place to work on these files, documents are just passed around, and collaboration is hindered.
12. Track progress and celebrate small accomplishments.
Continuously asses how your teams are doing per the project timeline. Congratulate achievers for every milestone reached.
Monitoring of progress is an integral part of task management. Managers need real-time data and the latest updates to make critical decisions. Without a tracker, the leader and the whole team will likely fail to see potential risks and obstacles, which could consequently derail the project. With a monitoring system (example from CA.gov) in place, leaders can keep an eye on every task and ensure that the plans are implemented as discussed.
13. Reward teams/ staff / best behavior
Recognition is essential for keeping employees engaged throughout the process. Keep the acknowledgment real-time and objective.
When managing tasks for a project, it is vital for leaders to engage their team. According to a Dale Carnegie finding, organizations with engaged workers outperform those with disengaged employees by 202%.
Those who love their work become more effective in meeting goals because the need to achieve and complete a project becomes inherent to them. This is a significant data that should prompt leaders to be more people-oriented.
14. Update teams on their progress and where they are on overall project completion.
The entire team needs to know which milestones they have already reached and if their efforts are paying off Employees who are in the know of where the team is in task completion are better engaged and are motivated to carry on and hustle up. Their sense of purpose is reaffirmed.
ManageUp is a comprehensive SaaS platform to manage your work and your team. It incorporates team thread/channel communication, task and project management, knowledge-sharing, and employee engagement in one platform allowing for full transparency and accountability.